Sometime ago I was waiting in a curtained cubicle at the doctors with my sick baby. I overhead a conversation between a nurse and a patient.
Nurse: “What have we got here?”
Patient: “I ripped my big toenail off, doing something I've always told my children not to do. I was kickstarting the bike in my jandals!”
His daughter was with him and they had a good laugh. He was very embarrassed about having to tell his other children about what he'd done.
What do his words mean to them now?
What else does he do that he's taught his children not to do?
This challenged me!
It's so much easier to teach our children things than it is to do them ourselves. But words don't have much weight unless they're backed by example.
I once did an online course on writing stories for children. A big lesson I learned in writing stories is that you need to show more than you tell. For example, if you are writing about a girl that is shy, instead of writing that she is shy you need to show it by her actions. There are times that you do need to tell but mostly you need to show.
And the same goes for our children. We do need to teach them, but they will learn far more from our actions than from our words.
It's not so easy, is it?
But how can we teach our children not to yell at each other when we yell at them?
How can we teach our children to love and respect their father if they can see that we don't?
How can we teach our children not to fight when they hear us fighting with their father?
How can we teach our children to be kind and gentle if we are not?
How can we teach our children to share when we are stingy ourselves?
How can we teach our children to love God if they can see that other things come first in our life?
How can we teach our children to pray if we have no prayer life?
How can we teach our children to obey if we do not obey God or submit to our husband?
How can we teach our children to be thankful when they hear us complaining?
Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?
Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Romans 2:21-22
We'll never be the perfect example that we want to be, but with God's help we can become much better than what we are!